“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin
The “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”, the mantra so often used to describe the heart of the United States of America, must be passed to a most unlikely candidate, Sweden. The measures put in place by governments around the world to deal with the “Wuhan Virus” have provided a sudden and unexpected level of clarity to the relationship between governors and the governed in every country. Those measures present a dismal picture of the country that not so long ago was the standard, the guiding light, for personal freedom on this planet. The evidence before us demands we accept that the USA has had its light extinguished, its standards broken, as the epitome of personal freedom.
First, the “Land of the Free”. Perhaps the most remarkable factor is not the fall of the USA from that standard but the country that has taken its place as the guiding light in personal freedom. Sweden, the country that has been Socialist since 1932 is the new standard bearer. It must be noted, though, that Sweden has never been a Socialist economy. They have embraced individual, not government, ownership of the means of production, so their Socialist nature comes from the government systems that offer “Cradle to Grave Security”. The wealth of the country has come from capitalism, and the nation-wide social programs are funded by very high personal, but low corporate, income taxes.
In the so called “coronavirus war” Sweden stands out as a country that respects the individual rights of its citizens. It is clear the leadership in the country takes the virus seriously, and many of their recommendations for behavior are not that much different than those in place in the USA. The immense difference is that measures to control the spread of the virus, including work from home if you can, social distance when possible, and limit the size of group gatherings are recommendations, not newly established laws. The approach to businesses and schools are also drastically different, as in Sweden most are allowed to stay open as compared to forced closures in the USA and most other countries. Those are game changing difference that show a respect for personal freedom and an expectation that citizens will live responsibly, while also addressing a serious threat to the health of those citizens. Their approach does not require a plan to restart the economy or return people to normal work environments. The Swedish economy has slowed a bit, but remains relatively strong compared to the rest of the world. Massive infusions of newly printed money amd gargantuan relief programs are not and will not be necessary in Sweden. The Swedish people seem to appreciate the freedoms their government allows compared to other countries, while it seems the majority of Americans are more than willing to give up any and all freedoms for the “protection” the measures provide. Please refer to the Benjamin Franklin quote above.
Second, how about the “Home of the Brave”? While so many citizens in the USA are willing to sacrifice so much to avoid illness, the Swedes go about business as usual to a much larger extent. Even though every single person in the USA has been labeled a “hero” in these uncommon days, from medical workers to grocery store employees to the person who willingly forgoes work to sit at home, I suggest it is the Swedish people who show real courage in the midst of a real threat to health and well-being.
The obvious question is, how well has this approach worked? Is the coronavirus “ravaging” Sweden as the so called experts have predicted? The answer is, quite simply: NO. The death rate per capita is one of the lowest in Europe and appears to already, or will soon, peak. The frantic predictions for calamity in Sweden with this relaxed approach to the coronavirus have not been realized, and it appears they will not occur. Governments and medical experts around the world will not admit the Swedish approach has been and will be successful. They still declare this will go terribly wrong for the people of Sweden, but I predict it will prove the most successful management of this coronavirus in the world today. What a beacon of light the country of Sweden will be if that is the case. What a blow to strong arm government tactics and fear mongering “medical expects” if the calm, reasonable approach we see in Sweden is the gold standard for management of this communicable illness.
The next question is, how can Sweden get it so right and the rest of the world, including the USA, get it so wrong? It is not because Swedish “medical experts” suggested these limited measures. Swedish officials in the medical field ranted, raved, and shouted fantastic doomsday predictions like most every other specialist of their kind in the world, demanding the same draconian measures used in almost every other country. The Swedish government just chose to ignore them and use a less intrusive approach.
So there you have it. Sweden, the present day guide to the preservation of individual freedom in our world today. Who would have guessed?